Photo © Elliott Kaufman Photography

Writer's Studio

Cooper Joseph Studio

Ghent, New York
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Located in the woods near the owner’s main house, this one-room personal retreat is sculptural and abstract in its form, but traditional in use of materials. The client, a scientist, wanted open views out to the corners so that from his desk looking south to the fireplace, he could see the full expanse of his property.

Design concept and solution:
From the visual softness of the shadows cast on the matte black cedar siding to the directness of the forms and surfaces, everything was carefully designed to create a place of serenity. As a single coherent building, the 550-square-foot structure, with an 11-foot-high ceiling, features minimalist detailing and large glass panels with open corners that challenge the simple reading of the studio as a mere box-like volume. No steel was used in any of the cantilevered corners making it possible for local carpenters to easily accomplish the job. A lower area, housing a window seat and bookshelf, protrudes from the basic volume on the east. The fenestration pattern is highly nuanced, for viewing from specific vantage points within and outside the structure. The entry window aligns with the upper south window accentuating the reading of the east wall as a separate plane. During harsh upstate New York winters, the fireplace becomes both the heart and the visual focus of the room.

The exterior is cedar, stained black in both 8-inch-long boards and 2-inch-long slats. Custom roof scuppers and edging are copper. A band of local river stones along the building base separates it from the forest floor, a feature reflected in the fireplace surround. Inside, the walnut wood cladding wraps onto the walls on the east and south. Local cleft-face black slate is used for the fireplace hearth. Next to the fireplace, the wood storage, accessed from a hidden exterior door, allows wood to be placed directly inside without carrying it through the room. Bathroom walls are also clad with black slate, and the bathroom sink is custom-designed in solid walnut with a slatted surface bringing water to a recessed drain inside the wall so that no piping is visible. A low- velocity air system cools and heats only the lower areas of the main room. Walnut floors are polished to a mirror finish bringing dappled, tree-filtered light into the room.

Total construction cost: $200,000

Cooper Joseph Studio
500 Park Avenue 16E
New York, New York 10022
T 212.935.3392
F 212.935.3731

July 2011
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